Author Topic: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition  (Read 28584 times)

George Erdner

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #120 on: June 28, 2010, 06:15:52 AM »
I just received this from WordAlone yesterday, and I am interested in the thoughts from the brain trust out there (well, I'm interested in what most of you think, at least).  The statement was issued by Tom Walker Vice-President of WordAlone ministries.  The paragraph that caught my eye was this:

After a decade of concerted effort that included WordAlone prayerfully and patiently birthing faithful ministries, actively witnessing in the wilderness while waiting on the Lord's directive through the Word, we have concluded as a movement that the theological decay of the ELCA cannot be stemmed or reformed. The entire doctrinal infrastructure of the ELCA is extremely damaged and the pervasive apathy of the membership at large assures that the current tragic direction will continue indefinitely. We urge confessional and biblical Lutherans to begin making plans to disassociate with the ELCA for the sake of their spiritual well being and particularly for the spiritual well being of their children and grandchildren.

My family already reached this point last November, but this statement seems like a significant turning point to me.

Kurt

Getting back to the subject of this thread, does anyone else find the apathy of the pewsitters on this issue to be especially troubling? From my own encounters with members of my congregation, and what I hear from other pewsitters, I get the impression that the lack of concern about "the issue" is an even bigger problem than strong advocacy for it one way or the other. It's almost as if the real problem isn't that the ELCA has fostered a climate where the people in the pews have been lead wrongly, it is that they have been lead to not care at all about anything but some vague, ill-defined concept of "mission" -- a word that can mean whatever the person saying it wants it to mean.

And please, I don't think it helpful for anyone to cut and paste a definition of "mission" from the dictionary.

Eileen Smith

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #121 on: June 28, 2010, 07:29:21 AM »
George, the apathy is nothing new out here and both clergy and laity suffer from it.  A number of lay people, going back to 1998, tried (without success) to convince some of the more "middle-of-the-road" pastors that there was an agenda with the benign resolutions being brought to the floor - the "gosh, let's just one one another and attach 'RIC' to our door."  Until this August 09 we still had some say, "oh there's no agenda" - even though a highly respected pastor kept giving this message.  In a number of congregations in MNYS (still keep in touch) some clergy have chosen not to discuss the August decisions at all our how it might impact.  Same goes for my own congregation.   Some lay people have expressed displeasure, but, of course, it won't affect us!  A woman went to her nephew's confirmation in another ELCA congregation in NJ.  The pastor announced he was gay (this in way of welcoming visitors), the organist was gay - and apparently it was a "gay" congregation.   Our member returned stating that could never happen in our congregation.  Think again.... A long way to say, George, YES, put me in the column of those for whom apathy is very distressing.   One last note - to be fair - there are some who valiantly spoke out against all that's happened.  They are silent now - not from apathy, just completely discouraged. 

Maryland Brian

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #122 on: June 28, 2010, 09:11:56 AM »
One last note - to be fair - there are some who valiantly spoke out against all that's happened.  They are silent now - not from apathy, just completely discouraged.  

 For me it's not apathy, but rather focusing passion in an alternate direction.  For whatever reason, the current configuration of merged Lutheran churches called the ELCA did what it did.  And now that configuration of merged churches and various gatherings of merged national bodies is coming apart by the numbers.  I'd rather put energy into where I'm leading than bemoaning the splintering of a temporary, earthly structure called the ELCA.  Over the last one hundred years my congregation has held membership in a variety of Lutheran denominations and their alphabet nomenclature.

    IMHO, the real issue is whether the next generation will know Christ and follow Him.  Personally, I don't think the ELCA is up to that task and so ...
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 02:31:33 PM by Maryland Brian »

passerby

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #123 on: June 28, 2010, 11:51:48 AM »
Passerby, whoever you are, if you want a centrist position that has some bite to it, check our James Davison Hunter and his book, "To Change the World."  I also do not mention PCA because I feel led to the conservatism of their Calvinist theology.  I simply believe we need desperately to revitalize our international mission efforts, and I find their efforts very commendable and worthy of study.  I also agree that Tim Keller is worthy of our attention.

In part I am seeking conversation partners who care about these matters more than the repetitive badgering that too often goes on and on in this forum.  Others are noting the need for those staying and leaving to converse among one another.  I am simply seconding this thought.

Yes, agreed. Great book; wonder if it has made it on to the reading lists of any ELCA officials

Paul L. Knudson

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #124 on: June 28, 2010, 01:55:15 PM »
I doubt very much that many have been reading this book.  Few seem to be showing signs of its wisdom.  This leads me, however, to think that those staying within the ELCA have a better chance of lifting up the learnings from Hunter's study to ELCA leaders.  I would think Synod staff who read may be one group who could then pass on insights needing to be heeded.  Maybe there are professors in the areas of what we used to call practical theology that could include it in their reading lists for courses.  Here is a resource which does not attack any one group but challenges all of us who live out our lives in the public square to go about that in a less politicized approach.

I am sharing with other leaders among those of us leaving that we also need to set the tone of our leadership that follows some of his counsel.  On great example goes back to a word that Nietzsche used, "ressentiment."  Hunter develops how this term speaks of not only folk acting out of resentment for real or perceived injuries to them as a group.  He shows that it connects to anger, rage, bitterness, and revenge.  When you see yourself as a victim and throw in all this negativity, it is a prescription for striking out at the other as the enemy.  We who espouse what we call centrist positions are not immune to dwelling on our victim status and how we have been injured and lost positions of privilege.  Guarding against these notions will be essential for constructive reconstruals of American Lutheranism on all fronts.  Seeing how such a tone can affect us all, could be points of contact and opportunities for bridging the gaps.  At least those staying may have more acceptable credentials for raising these concerns to the present powers at be at different levels.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #125 on: June 28, 2010, 06:08:54 PM »

If you look up the word, semite, it refers to Arabs and Jews. Promoting the cause of Arab (and Jewish) Christians in Palestine is not being anti-semite.

You might look up the word "anti-semite," Brian.  

But it is always good when you show us exactly how your exegesis works.

Did I give a definition for "anti-semite"? Do you disagree with the definition of semite? If you are going to disagree with me, at least disagree with what I have written rather than what I haven't written. Is promoting the cause of Arab and Jewish Christians in Palestine being anti-semitic?

It's just as good when you reveal how your arguments work.

Considering the definition of anti-semite: hostility to or prejudice against Jews Why shouldn't I consider the hostility and prejudice against me in this forum as being anti-semitic, since I'm a person of Jewish heritage?

That could be my new approach -- every post that is hostile to what I've said -- I'll call anti-semitic.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2010, 02:41:37 AM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

George Erdner

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #126 on: June 28, 2010, 06:11:40 PM »

If you look up the word, semite, it refers to Arabs and Jews. Promoting the cause of Arab (and Jewish) Christians in Palestine is not being anti-semite.

You might look up the word "anti-semite," Brian. 

But it is always good when you show us exactly how your exegesis works.

Did I give a definition for "anti-semite"? Do you disagree with the definition of semite? If you are going to disagree with me, at least disagree with what I have written rather than what I haven't written. Is promoting the cause of Arab and Jewish Christians in Palestine being anti-semite?

It's just as good when you reveal how your arguments work.

Steven and Brian, cut it out! You to are always sniping at each other. The rest of us don't want to watch the two of you constantly bickering.  ::)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #127 on: June 28, 2010, 06:16:19 PM »

If you look up the word, semite, it refers to Arabs and Jews. Promoting the cause of Arab (and Jewish) Christians in Palestine is not being anti-semite.

You might look up the word "anti-semite," Brian. 

But it is always good when you show us exactly how your exegesis works.

Did I give a definition for "anti-semite"? Do you disagree with the definition of semite? If you are going to disagree with me, at least disagree with what I have written rather than what I haven't written. Is promoting the cause of Arab and Jewish Christians in Palestine being anti-semite?

It's just as good when you reveal how your arguments work.

Steven and Brian, cut it out! You to are always sniping at each other. The rest of us don't want to watch the two of you constantly bickering.  ::)

Somebody has to do it since the Charles and George show is on hiatus.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

vicarbob

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #128 on: June 28, 2010, 11:02:37 PM »
I do hope and pray lurkers are paying attention when Pr. Tibbetts speaks.

Upon loading the index page if I see that Pr. Tibbetts has posted, I always click on that link.  There are a select few who receive such immediate interest.

Thank you Pastor, you honor and humble me with this distinction.......what?. ???......not!!!. :o :o......come on dude :'( :'(

LutherMan

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #129 on: June 28, 2010, 11:17:07 PM »
I do hope and pray lurkers are paying attention when Pr. Tibbetts speaks.

Upon loading the index page if I see that Pr. Tibbetts has posted, I always click on that link.  There are a select few who receive such immediate interest.

Thank you Pastor, you honor and humble me with this distinction.......what?. ???......not!!!. :o :o......come on dude :'( :'(

Your responses are some of the most unLutheran things I read and pass by immediately.   I would dump them into the pit, were it possible.

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #130 on: June 29, 2010, 03:21:29 AM »
<sigh!>  One tries to be lighthearted for a moment...
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Steven Tibbetts

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #131 on: June 29, 2010, 03:26:45 AM »

Did I give a definition for "anti-semite"? Do you disagree with the definition of semite? If you are going to disagree with me, at least disagree with what I have written rather than what I haven't written. Is promoting the cause of Arab and Jewish Christians in Palestine being anti-semite?

You defined "semite" in a particular context, Brian.  One only introduces that definition of "semite" into such contexts when extremely naive or in order to suggest that "anti-semitism" means something different from what it really means in the hope of making it seem more innocuous than it really is.  

And just who promoting the cause of "Jewish Christians in Palestine?"

Quote
Considering the definition of anti-semite: hostility to or prejudice against Jews Why shouldn't I consider the hostility and prejudice against me in this forum as being anti-semitic, since I'm a person of Jewish heritage?

Are you Jewish?

Quote

That could be my new approach -- every post that is hostile to what I've said -- I'll call anti-semitic.

Go ahead, Brian.  Keep on playing with words.  After all, they can't really hurt anyone, can they?

Christe eleison, Steven+
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Erma S. Wolf

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #132 on: June 29, 2010, 10:15:54 AM »
     I don't say apathy doesn't exist.  But I'm not finding much apathy these days.  I do find people, both laity and clergy, who are tired and frustrated with the ongoing nature of this disagreement.  I find people who are uncertain what they and their congregations should do, and want to be able to take their time in figuring out which direction is the right one to pursue.  I find people who are in despair over the fact that their congregations will lose members no matter what the congregations do.  I find people who feel caught, trapped, in an unworkable, unlivable decision made by CWA members, most of whom these people don't know and while they aren't angry at the individual CWA voting members, they can't figure out how they can possibly change things in the system of the ELCA to make the situation any better.  And I find people (laity and clergy) who are so certain that the 2009 decisions mean that the ELCA future is set to heresy that their congregation should vote to leave the ELCA, vote as soon as possible, vote NOW, even if that means that the congregations splits and people leave to form a "new" congregation that defines itself as NOT the ELCA.   

    The fact is that the 2009 decisions mean that for some congregations, the gradual decline (due to other factors entirely) has been accelerated into a death spiral.  For other congregations, which had made headway against such decline and had some hope of turning around, such headway has halted and they have returned to a state where decline is certain.  And for still more congregations, those who had been healthy and growing, things are now in a state of confusion and while there is no decline, there is also no growth.  For a few congregations, this matter either has not made a difference at all and is not disruptive even if many in the congregations disagree with the CWA decisions, or these are congregations that have welcomed and worked for the CWA decisions.

    The Word Alone decree that everyone needs to leave the ELCA as soon as possible throws another grenade into the mix.  In some parts of the ELCA what WA says won't matter one way or the other.  In some parts, the fact that WA says "leave" must mean that the right thing to do is stay.  But for some congregations, and some people in the ELCA, what WA says has a ripple effect that will undo, or threaten to undo, the careful work of both pastors and laity to keep their congregations from making precipitous decisions, to keep families and individuals from leaving, to maintain good stewardship practices and avoid needlessly hurting those who are homosexual or those who have family members who are gay. 

   What I fear is that people who want to stay in the ELCA even though they disagree with the CWA decisions are being judged to be "apathetic."  And that is a label that many do not deserve.  Hunkerin' down when the gale force winds are blowing is not apathy; it is survival instinct. 

George Erdner

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #133 on: June 29, 2010, 10:21:55 AM »
     I don't say apathy doesn't exist.  But I'm not finding much apathy these days.  I do find people, both laity and clergy, who are tired and frustrated with the ongoing nature of this disagreement.  I find people who are uncertain what they and their congregations should do, and want to be able to take their time in figuring out which direction is the right one to pursue.  I find people who are in despair over the fact that their congregations will lose members no matter what the congregations do.  I find people who feel caught, trapped, in an unworkable, unlivable decision made by CWA members, most of whom these people don't know and while they aren't angry at the individual CWA voting members, they can't figure out how they can possibly change things in the system of the ELCA to make the situation any better.  And I find people (laity and clergy) who are so certain that the 2009 decisions mean that the ELCA future is set to heresy that their congregation should vote to leave the ELCA, vote as soon as possible, vote NOW, even if that means that the congregations splits and people leave to form a "new" congregation that defines itself as NOT the ELCA.   

I would regard anyone who places more importance on the nature of the disagreements or the consequences of the disagreements than they do on the subject matter of the disagreements as being an example of apathy. I would say that anyone who doesn't place the content of the disagreement, which is the issue of how the ELCA regards Scripture as the source and norm of our understanding is apathetic about the things that matter.

When bad things happen, there are unfortunate consequences. That's unfortunate. But ignoring a cancer in hope that it will go away is not a wise course of action.

Yes, congregations will be torn apart as a result of the actions of the CWA last August. It has happened to some already, it will happen to more in the course of time. Some congregations will shatter, some will cleanly cleave in twain, and some will simply erode. To ignore that reality in hopes that "we'll all just get along" is the worst sort of apathy.

peterm

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Re: WordAlone-The End of Loyal Opposition
« Reply #134 on: June 29, 2010, 10:46:29 AM »
     I don't say apathy doesn't exist.  But I'm not finding much apathy these days.  I do find people, both laity and clergy, who are tired and frustrated with the ongoing nature of this disagreement.  I find people who are uncertain what they and their congregations should do, and want to be able to take their time in figuring out which direction is the right one to pursue.  I find people who are in despair over the fact that their congregations will lose members no matter what the congregations do.  I find people who feel caught, trapped, in an unworkable, unlivable decision made by CWA members, most of whom these people don't know and while they aren't angry at the individual CWA voting members, they can't figure out how they can possibly change things in the system of the ELCA to make the situation any better.  And I find people (laity and clergy) who are so certain that the 2009 decisions mean that the ELCA future is set to heresy that their congregation should vote to leave the ELCA, vote as soon as possible, vote NOW, even if that means that the congregations splits and people leave to form a "new" congregation that defines itself as NOT the ELCA.   

    The fact is that the 2009 decisions mean that for some congregations, the gradual decline (due to other factors entirely) has been accelerated into a death spiral.  For other congregations, which had made headway against such decline and had some hope of turning around, such headway has halted and they have returned to a state where decline is certain.  And for still more congregations, those who had been healthy and growing, things are now in a state of confusion and while there is no decline, there is also no growth.  For a few congregations, this matter either has not made a difference at all and is not disruptive even if many in the congregations disagree with the CWA decisions, or these are congregations that have welcomed and worked for the CWA decisions.

    The Word Alone decree that everyone needs to leave the ELCA as soon as possible throws another grenade into the mix.  In some parts of the ELCA what WA says won't matter one way or the other.  In some parts, the fact that WA says "leave" must mean that the right thing to do is stay.  But for some congregations, and some people in the ELCA, what WA says has a ripple effect that will undo, or threaten to undo, the careful work of both pastors and laity to keep their congregations from making precipitous decisions, to keep families and individuals from leaving, to maintain good stewardship practices and avoid needlessly hurting those who are homosexual or those who have family members who are gay. 

   What I fear is that people who want to stay in the ELCA even though they disagree with the CWA decisions are being judged to be "apathetic."  And that is a label that many do not deserve.  Hunkerin' down when the gale force winds are blowing is not apathy; it is survival instinct. 

Thank you Erma! Nicely put.  I find myself in the same situation and am getting tired of on the one hand being branded as "unlutheran" because I have chosen to stay where I'm at, and uncharitable because I cannot fully endorse the course of action because it seems to me to be too early to fully judge the fallout, and ramifications either way.  Early indications, tell one thing, but long term indications are not yet clear, nor will they be for some time yet.  To try and remain faithful where you have been called to serve is not "apathy." 
Rev. Peter Morlock- ELCA pastor serving two congregations in WIS